Richmond test - Sadler Wednesday interview

Richmond International Raceway COT, Dodge Avenger Test Session April 4, 2007. ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Avenger) "I'm just glad to be here at Richmond. Growing up here in Southern Virginia and coming here as a fan when it...

Richmond International Raceway
COT, Dodge Avenger Test Session
April 4, 2007.

ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Avenger)

"I'm just glad to be here at Richmond. Growing up here in Southern Virginia and coming here as a fan when it was a half mile, and I was actually here the day they made it a three-quarter mile track, so it's always special every time I get to come up here. We've had a pretty good test. The car is pretty good on long runs and that's all we've been working on the past two days. Of course the Car of Tomorrow is a different animal from anything we've been working on in the past. We've trying to figure out what it wants here at Richmond International. Goodyear brought a different tire than we had here last year, so we're getting a lot of data. We've had beautiful weather. We've learned some good things right now, and we feel pretty good about our car and our chances when we come back."

COMMENT ON THE NEW 8,000-SEAT GRANDSTAND "That's awesome. Doug (Fritz, Richmond Track President) told me about it at Martinsville, but he didn't tell me it was that high. I kinda want to walk to the top of it, but I'm scared of heights. I might watch some of the Busch race up there. It's definitely a great addition to a magnificent raceway anyway. It's pretty tall and it's neat. That's an awesome addition. Richmond has always been a fan-friendly racetrack. It's always sold out. It's always great racing. If you talk to every driver in the garage I think 95 percent of them will say this is their favorite racetrack just because it creates great racing. It's getting like the old Richmond. It's getting nice and gray. Cars are sliding around a lot and that's going to bring in a lot of different grooves, and fans are going to see some great racing when we come back."

DO YOU SEE THE COT PRODUCING SIMILAR-TYPE RACING? "We'll see. We're definitely learning more as a whole, that's NASCAR, teams, officials and drivers alike. We learn more about this COT every time we race it. By the time we race it at Phoenix, by the time we finish the test the last two days, by the time we get back we'll have a good handle on the COT, but I think you can pretty much race anything here at Richmond and create some good side by side racing. I think you won't be disappointed when we come back. This is a very frustrating car from what we're used to as a driver with the old car if the car is a little bit tight you can make it a little bit loose. If the car is a little bit loose, you can do things inside the car to make it a little bit tight. What you've got is what you've got now. If the car is tight, it's just going to be tight. If the car is loose, it's just going to be loose. It's a very frustrating vehicle. I think because it's new and it's something like I've never driven before and it's something like my guys have never worked on before. We've got a lot to learn about the COT, and I think when you hear guys lash out against the COT it's because they're just frustrated. It's something new and we haven't all hit a home run with it yet maybe like Jimmie and some of the other guys have. It's just a frustrating car. Today I've been very frustrated with it. We've got to get it to turn. Whoever can get the car to turn I think is going to be the best when we come back here with it for the night race. It definitely offers a lot of hard work. The splitter is something we've never worked with. I wish we could raise the splitter up a little bit, try to find ways on the racetrack to bend it up a little bit before the race starts. It might help me out a little bit. It's frustrating because it's new to us and we all want to jump right in this racecar and be fast right off the bat, and it's just not going to happen for everybody."

COMMENT ON UNLEADED FUEL "I think it's going to be good for the sport. That's what everybody puts in their car every day when you're going back and forth to work. I think it's definitely good. I think we had to make the change one day, and it just happened to be this year. We're going through some things. It doesn't coat the parts as much as leaded fuel used to, so the guys had to spend some money and do some extra testing this winter to get some things figured out. We really haven't had many motors problems here the last two weeks, so I think a lot of engine builders are figuring this deal out. I think it'll be better for us in the long run. We've learned some things about it. It burns a little hotter and makes the exhaust heat a little hotter, so we've put a couple of extra pads and stuff under the seat to help with heat and everything should be fine."

COMMENT ABOUT YOUR START "I'm happy where we are because we've had a couple of bad luck races and a couple of things happen to us and we're only a few points out of the top 12. Where we're sitting, we're in pretty good shape. My two teammates are in two really deep, deep holes and I look at them and see what they're going through and see how much more empty the glass could be, but right now we're not too far out. We've got some strong tracks coming up for Elliott Sadler that suit my driving style as far as Darlington and Texas and Charlotte. We're sitting in pretty good position. I think we're learning a lot. I think we're going to make the COT a little bit better. We had it really figured out at Bristol. I think we had a first or second-place car there. We're going to get stronger. We're very new as a team and I think we're in pretty good shape right now."

COMMENT ON RICKY RUDD GOING INTO THE VIRGINIA HOF "I think it's great. I think growing up in Virginia as a race car driver we all looked up to people like Ricky Rudd and Ward Burton and Jeff Burton and Curtis Turner and the Wood Brothers and people from this area -- Junie Donleavy. People like that have been a part of this sport for a long time and sunk a lot of their money into it. Coming from this state it means a lot to me. Congratulations to Ricky. He's still going strong. He's still a great competitor and a great guy and he's led the way for a lot of us. We've got a lot of good owners and drivers from Virginia. Richmond and Martinsville are pretty much sold out every time we race at 'em, so that shows what kind of race fans we have in this Commonwealth also."

ARE MOST OF THE CHALLENGES SO FAR THIS SEASON CENTERED AROUND THE COT? "We're being challenged in every different way. It seems like certain teams have hit it. Hendrick has really raised the bar on the COT. We knew this going in. We said this last October. A team is going to hit this COT and is really going to shine the first five or six months until everybody else catches up. Right now it seems that Hendrick Motorsports has really hit on it and raised the bar and caused some problems for other teams. We're really working hard. We haven't hit on it, but it's not because of lack of effort. Kasey has had some terrible luck and so has Scott. We really feel ourselves not only trying to dig out of the hole in points but also trying to get some more data and figure out this COT quicker than we have been."

COMMENT ON COMMERCIALS WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON "I think it's one of the funniest commercials I ever made. Jimmie and I had to do 30 takes on it. Every time the guy walked up, I just busted out laughing. It's like I told Tylenol. When I have deals with people like that, I want to use my true personality. That's me. I don't care if I'm the fall guy in the commercial. Tylenol I think has got the funniest commercial you'll ever see in your life coming out. We just filmed it last week and me and Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson and Dale Jr. and Jeff Burton filmed it on different dates. We were crying, I mean crying laughing for a couple of hours at a time trying to film it and it took all day to film it because Kevin and I kept messing it up. I like for the race fans to get to see the lighter sides of some of our personalities because we're always so busy at the track, always so focused. I don't mind being the fall guy or the idiot or the guy that gets the joke played on 'em in the commercials. It's just who I am. I can laugh at myself with the best of them."

COMMENT ON REMOVING THE FOAM PADDING "I think what they mean is to just raise it up off the exhaust pipes. Everybody runs the exhaust pipes off the right side and with 1,200-degree temperatures it was just melting the foam and catching on fire and causing different fumes and stuff inside the car. Evernham Motorsports already saw that happening with all the testing we'd done and had already moved all of ours. We haven't had any problems with it. We've already taken that step and now other teams will just have to catch up with us on that. That foam is there for our protection, but it was getting hotter than what I think they had anticipated. It's not going to be a lot of problems. It's not going to take a long times for the teams to do that, and it should be safer for all the drivers. It is not removed. It's the full length of the door toward the beginning part of the door and toward the end of the exhaust pipes. We're just cutting out the bottom part half of the door from the seam out of the door down to the exhaust pipes. We're not having any foam in it. The top part will still have it. It's almost shaped like an L."

DISCUSS WHAT IT'S BEEN LIKE AROUND THE TEAM WITH EVERNHAM LOOKING FOR A PARTNER "I don't see Ray outstretching himself. I think he's a very competitive person. He works at the shop 12 hours a day. I talk to him two to three times a day. We talk about different ideas, not only about our team but about the 9 and 10. He's frustrated just like the rest of us, but I don't see any desperation there. Everything is going along like clockwork at Evernham Motorsports. We've got the people doing R&D stuff all the time. We've got testing going on all the time. We're going along as planned. Sometimes things change. This COT is a little different. The Goodyear tires are different. We're just playing a little bit of a catchup right now. I think Kasey and Scott pretty much don't have any more room left for errors. Those guys have got to get hot and get some momentum going to get back in the middle of this thing. We all feel that. It's pressure. As far as looking for partnerships, I wouldn't want to be a car owner this day and age, especially this year with the new expense of the COT, with the new engineering help on that, with the unleaded fuel cost. It's extra spending to get the motor stuff done right. Right now is probably not a great time to be a car owner. A lot of great car owners who have been part of the sport for a long time are looking for investors to come in and put some more money in circulations so we can put the Joneses next door and keep spending and keep testing and making our race team better."

HOW FAR DO YOU FEEL REMOVED FROM 2004? "I feel like I can do it as a driver. Making it in '04 and barely missing it in '05 showed me both sides of the spectrum. How happy you can be and how sad. I try to forget last year's season. It was just a tough season all the way around. I try to leave that out of my head as much as I can and relate back to the things I did right and wrong in '04 and '05. I just want to be a good driver that finishes a lot of laps, keeps my DNFs down and the races we think we can win run in the top five. I want that to happen.The races I think we need a 15th-20th place finish is what we need to get all the points we can, then I want that to happen. I'm trying to be a smart race car driver. I've got nine years experience now and I want to be around at the end of every single race and get the maximum points we can. Whether we lead a lap or not or whether we get a top five or not, get every point we can each and every week and then we'll see where the chips fall when we get to September."

DO YOU HAVE ANY CONCERN WITH OTHER COT ISSUES GOING FORWARD? "We've had some different concerns with this COT. It's all new. It's new to us. It's new to our engineers. It's new to NASCAR. I think we're all going to learn as we go forward. NASCAR learned about the foam getting too hot. I talked to Dale Jarrett after his wreck at Bristol and he got hit so hard it knocked the front and rear clip actually off the car where he couldn't repair it enough to get back on there. That's something it's made to do to protect the drivers, but sometimes if you get in a bad wreck you might not be able to repair your car to get back out. It's different hurdles you're going to have to leap over and learn about with the COT car. Of course, other things are going to come up. Brake issues at Martinsville. We had a couple of cars that had brake issues and we haven't seen brake issues in a couple of years there. It's going to be something new everytime we come out until we learn every different things about it. I feel like my guys at Evernham have done a good job of making it safe. We feel like we've done a good job as far as the foam. We've learned about the exhaust pipes problems at Bristol. The tested the COT so much at Evernham we actually made ours heavier and stronger so we wouldn't have that problem. We saw cracking start to appear when we were testing this winter, and we actually bit the bullet and made the car heavier and safer for Kasey, Scott and myself. Certain things call preventative maintenance you can take care of as a team, but there will also be some surprises, too. We're all going to learn together because it's definitely a different animal."

HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THE COT TO THE PIT CREW? "It's definitely a lot different. Like I said before it's a different animal. It's going to take different things to make it work. No matter what you're racing as a driver you need to explain every detail to your crew, especially on race weekend when you have no computer, you have no data to give back to these guys. You've got to be very skeptical of everything going on around you with the race car and give them all the information you can to make the car better. I don't think that's really a COT thing. It's really just a part of racing. The drivers that give the best information back to the crew and work better together usually have better success on Sundays."

-credit: dodge interview

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Ward Burton , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Elliott Sadler
Teams Hendrick Motorsports